IP Protection Strategies in the Philippines for the Logistics and Transportation Industry

Logistics3In today’s blog post we will discuss the IP protection in the Logistics and Transportation industry –  one of the fast-growing industries in the Philippines that is also expected to offer promising business opportunities to European SMEs whose top-notch technology is especially sought after. The blog post offers some practical tips on IP protection to keep in mind before entering the promising market of the Philippines. 

The logistics and transportation industry in the Philippines is growing steadily due to strong economic growth in the country and gradual increase in domestic demand fueled by the rise of the country’s middle class and increase in remittances from workers abroad. According to various studies, the industry is expected to grow as much as 16.7% by 2020.[1] Opportunities for logistics providers also continue to expand thanks to the steady growth in the Philippine’s e-commerce sector.

However, transportation costs in the Philippines are still significantly higher than in many other ASEAN countries, notably in Malaysia and Thailand. This is due to the geographic challenges that the Philippines faces as a conglomerate of islands, but also due to unclear regulations imposed by different government agencies that sometimes induce informal payments.[2] The transportation and logistics industry also faces some infrastructural challenges as the country still suffers from congestion on the roads in urban areas and at seaports. For example, clearance time for shipments at ports is more than twice as long in the Philippines than in many of its neighboring countries.

On the other hand, this year the Philippine government has put forward an ambitious plan of modernizing and improving the country’s infrastructure such as building new roads, railways, airports and improving the situation of seaports.  The government has also committed itself to improving the regulations and to fight corruption in transportation sector.[3] This means that the transportation and logistics industry would offer lucrative business opportunities for European SMEs in the near future.

European logistics and transportation SMEs wishing to enter the Philippines’ market need to keep in mind that despite the improvements in the Philippines’ IP laws and regulations, counterfeiting and other IP infringements are still commonplace in the country and thus a robust IP strategy is needed to grow their business in the Philippines. Continue reading “IP Protection Strategies in the Philippines for the Logistics and Transportation Industry” »

Handling of your Trade Secrets in South-East Asia

MP900285073[1]Many European SMEs are thinking about bringing their technology to South-East Asia, but are concerned about IP issues. In today’s blog post, we discuss another IP protection measure – namely trade secrets. Trade secrets are a valuable but often overlooked means of IP protection that SMEs wishing to bring their technology to South-East Asia should be aware of, as good trade secret protection can be the key to successfully bringing your technology to South-East Asia. 

What are Trade Secrets?

Trade secrets are a highly valuable form of intellectual property that nearly all businesses in all industries and sectors possess. However, they are frequently overlooked by businesses, partly because there is confusion about what actually constitutes a trade secret. So what is a trade secret?

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), any confidential business information that is of considerable commercial value to businesses and that provides an enterprise with a competitive edge may be considered a trade secret. In practice, this could be:

  • sales methods
  • distribution methods
  • consumer profiles
  • advertising plans
  • pricing strategies
  • lists of suppliers and clients
  • manufacturing processes

In other words, more often than not trade secrets are the ‘know-how’ that a business builds up over time. Typically, the longer the SME is in business the more valuable its trade secrets will become, and the more its business grows the more its competitors will seek to discover this valuable working knowledge. Therefore, it is increasingly important to take steps to protect trade secrets.

Unlike some other forms of IP rights, such as patents and copyrights that have a finite term, trade secrets can theoretically enjoy an infinite term of protection, so long as the trade secret remains just that – a secret. Furthermore, to be enforceable by law it is generally required that as well as not being known to the public and providing economic benefits to the holder, the secret should be subjected to reasonable efforts to protect it (and there should be evidence of these efforts). Continue reading “Handling of your Trade Secrets in South-East Asia” »

Handling Trade Secrets in China: IP Case Study

MP900387752In today’s blog post we are taking a closer look at a rather overlooked means of IP protection, namely trade secrets. Even though, trade secrets are a type of IP that does not require formal registration, there are still some aspects to pay attention to when using trade secrets to protect your inventions in China. We’ve chosen a case study involving a Dutch SME to highlight some of these aspects. 

Trade Secrets in China 

Nearly all businesses in all industries and sectors possess trade secrets. Trade secrets are a valuable and highly useful form of intellectual property that are nevertheless often undervalued and overlooked by their owners. This is not least the case in the service sector where the relative value of trade secrets as intangible assets can be extremely high. For example, a logistics firm may not hold any patents or few trade marks and substantial copyrights, but the value of its operations could heavily derive from information contained within client lists and standard procedures.

A considerable advantage for trade secrets is that unlike some other forms of IP rights, such as patents and copyrights that have a finite term, trade secrets can theoretically enjoy an infinite term of protection so long as the trade secret remains just that – a secret. The main difference between protecting something by patent or as a trade secret is that, while technical information is publicly disclosed in patents, it is kept away from the public eye in trade secrets. A trade secret can last forever as long as the confidentiality measures that protect it continue to work. An invention patent typically expires after 20 years.

On the other hand, legal protection of trade secrets is easily lost. Once the information becomes public information, it no longer enjoys any legal protection. As a result, prevention is the golden rule when it comes to protecting your trade secrets, because once your secret is out, there is usually very little that you can do about it. China, like most other countries, provides a legal framework for the protection for trade secrets, and the law provides for remedies in the event that your trade secrets are unlawfully disclosed. Continue reading “Handling Trade Secrets in China: IP Case Study” »

Dealing with Partners and Employees: Writing a Good Manufacturing Non-disclosure Agreement in China

MP900438585There are various ways in which European SMEs can protect their IP. The most obvious way is to register IP in the country where SMEs do business in. At the same time, another, sometimes overlooked, way to protect IP is using well-written contracts. The people and companies that SMEs do business with in China, and therefore contract with, will often use the European SMEs’ IP to varying degrees. Therefore, it is also very important for the European SMEs to protect their IP with well-written manufacturing contracts. Today’s blog post gives some  practical tips on how to write good manufacturing non-disclosure agreements for doing business in China. 

Defining protected information: keeping everyone on the same page

NNN agreements should clearly define which rights are being disclosed or licensed, their nature, and their scope. Clear mechanisms for identifying and marking, accounting for, and maintaining secrecy for this information (or indications of who will bear these responsibilities, what general types of information should be considered confidential, or processes for retroactively marking material as confidential) should be present. If desired, additional clauses can also outline what types of information will not be considered confidential. Naturally, before these types of information can be identified, an SME should first understand just what its trade secrets are. Conducting an IP assessment and audit can identify key IP which was otherwise taken for granted or not fully appreciated by the SME and can assign a value to the IP which will make calculating contract damages much easier.

While the contract is in force, these rules should be strictly followed. Over the course of the contract, additional IP may be generated as a result of the work of employees or independent innovations on the part of the manufacturer. NNN agreements can also include clauses which dictate that all such IP belongs to the SME and can thereby avoid future disputes. Note, however, that China places restrictions on the export of some technology—meaning that agreements automatically granting new IP to the SME could be struck down in court. Continue reading “Dealing with Partners and Employees: Writing a Good Manufacturing Non-disclosure Agreement in China” »

How to Protect Trade Secrets in China: a Case Study

fgjMore and more European companies are considering bringing their cutting-edge technology to China, as the market offers many promising opportunities for European high tech companies. However, despite the fact that Chinese IP regime has improved a lot, IP infringements are still commonplace in China and, thus, European SMEs, wishing to successfully  do business in China, need to consider all the possibilities of how to protect their IP in China. Today’s blog post explores the often neglected, but a very useful  way of protecting IP in China – the trade secrets.

Nearly all businesses in all industries and sectors possess trade secrets. Trade secrets are a valuable and highly useful form of intellectual property that are nevertheless often undervalued and overlooked by their owners. This is not least the case in the service sector where the relative value of trade secrets as intangible assets can be extremely high. For example, a logistics firm may not hold any patents or few trade marks and substantial copyrights, but the value of its operations could heavily derive from information contained within client lists and standard procedures.

A considerable advantage for trade secrets is that unlike some other forms of IP rights, such as patents and copyrights that have a finite term, trade secrets can theoretically enjoy an infinite term of protection so long as the trade secret remains just that – a secret. The main difference between protecting something by patent or as a trade secret is that, while technical information is publicly disclosed in patents, it is kept away from the public eye in trade secrets. A trade secret can last forever as long as the confidentiality measures that protect it continue to work. An invention patent typically expires after 20 years.

On the other hand, legal protection of trade secrets is easily lost. Once the information becomes public information, it no longer enjoys any legal protection. As a result, prevention is the golden rule when it comes to protecting your trade secrets, because once your secret is out, there is usually very little that you can do about it. China, like most other countries, provides a legal framework for the protection for trade secrets, and the law provides for remedies in the event that your trade secrets are unlawfully disclosed. Continue reading “How to Protect Trade Secrets in China: a Case Study” »